Betrayed futures: Uneconomic schooling in liberalizing Kerala (India)

Publication Type:

Book Chapters


Leya Mathew


Anthropological perspectives on student futures. Anthropological Studies of Education, Palgrave Macmillan, p.103-118 (2017)




This chapter describes the social practices of mothers whose children study at Malayalam medium schools, arguing that these mothers' struggles highlight the extent to which Malayam medium schooling has become a sign of marginalization and abjection. Further, ethnographic inquiry reveals how, despite experiencing abjection, mothers yet hoped for more just and desirable futures. However, mothers were simultaneously aware of the inadequacies of hope in effecting radical material and social change, and the costs entailed in hoping were exacting. For former slave-caste mothers whose children disproportionately remain at Malayalam medium schools, schooling was thus entangled in obsessive hope and overwhelming despair.